Monday, August 19, 2013

"Shoot the Dog"

Brad Smith was born and raised in southern Ontario. He has worked as a farmer, signalman, insulator, truck driver, bartender, schoolteacher, maintenance mechanic, roofer, and carpenter. He lives in an eighty-year-old farmhouse near the north shore of Lake Erie. Run Means Red, the first novel in his Virgil Cain series, was named among the Year’s Best Crime Novels by Booklist.

Smith applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Shoot the Dog, and reported the following:
By chance, page 69 is a perfect choice to show what the book is about. Here it is –
Fairfield Village was a somewhat faithfully reconstructed pioneer settlement located on a two-lane blacktop a few miles off Route 17, about halfway between Woodstock and Oneonta. Virgil, driving his old pickup and hauling Mary Nelson’s double horse trailer behind, found the place easily enough, arriving at a quarter to seven Monday morning. There were signs with Frontier Woman and Big Deal Productions everywhere, advertising the film shoot and advising cast and crew where to park.

Virgil pulled the Ford into a gravel lot at one end of the recreated village and turned the ignition off. The settlement was much larger than he’d expected, covering maybe fifty acres in all. The main street was composed of dirt, and featured—among other buildings—a general store, millinery, post office, courthouse, and smithy. There were fields, just beyond the town proper, planted with rye and corn and bordered with rail fences. And while the quaintness of the village felt artificial on a certain level, the fields were real, as were the crops.

A few people in period costume wandered the streets, carrying take-out coffees, the early hour and their somewhat sluggish pace suggesting they were heading for work. Whether they were involved with the film or everyday employees of the pioneer village, Virgil had no idea. In fact, he had no notion at all of what to expect now that he was there. He’d been told it was the first day of shooting and to be at the village at seven in the morning. Nothing else.

He’d brought along a thermos of coffee and some lunch, and now he poured himself a cup and leaned against the fender of the truck, waiting for whatever was going to happen next.
There you have it – Virgil Cain goes to work on a movie set. Or – more accurately – Virgil’s two Percheron workhorses go to work on a movie set. Virgil hires on as transport. All he has to do is drive the horses back and forth to the location every day. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, it turns out.
Learn more about the book and author at Brad Smith's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Brad Smith.

--Marshal Zeringue